Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Miscellaneous Missouri artillery

Fighting back the urge to use alliteration and call this post the “messy miscellaneous Missouri”.  But things are not really that bad.  Just four entries to consider:


Four lines, yes.  But lines requiring some discussion for proper identifications:

  • 1st Battery Artillery M.S.M. – Missouri State Militia, 1st Battery.  Posted at Sedalia, Missouri with two (three?) 12-pdr field howitzers and four 10-pdr Parrotts.  Captain Albert Wachsman organized this battery in May 1862. However, Captain Charles H. Thurbur commanded in the winter of 1863 (Wachsman was demoted to Lieutenant in May that year).  With the 2nd Battery M.S.M. discharging in the fall and early winter, the 1st M.S.M. was the only such on Federal rolls.
  • Attached to 5th Cav. – With the ditto marks, I would assume this indicated a detachment from the 1st Battery posted southeast of Sedalia to Waynesville in support of the 5th Missouri State Militia Cavalry.  Companies A, E, and H, under Major Waldemar Fischer, were posted to that town.  No guns reported specifically for this detachment.
  • 6th Volunteer Cavalry – “stores in charge.”  With more dittos, this line is vague.  The 6th Missouri Cavalry was at Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana but active throughout the winter in the operations against Vicksburg.  No cannon listed, but there was some ammunition reported.
  • A line with a lot more dittos – We have a location of Millikin’s Bend to work from. And four 12-pdr mountain howitzers. One battery unaccounted for is Captain Clemens Landgraeber’s 1st Missouri Horse Artillery.  The battery was posted to Young’s Point at the time, part of the First Division, Fifteenth Corps.  Landgraeber’s battery had howitzers.  So that is my leading guess.  Later in the year, the battery would receive a new designation – Battery F, 2nd Missouri Artillery.  But we’ll table that for the moment.

One other battery often cited as from Missouri, and not accounted for in the list, is Walling’s Battery, of the Mississippi Marine Brigade.  Dyer’s indicates the unit was first formed as Battery C, 1st Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery (later re-designated 3rd Regiment).  When assigned to service on the Mississippi River, in early 1863, Captain Daniel P. Walling commanded. The battery operated with Brigadier-General Alfred Ellet’s Mississippi Marine Brigade.  However, it was not until later in the war that the battery’s association with Missouri was set with another re-designation – Battery E, 1st Missouri.  Quarterly returns through 1863 listed the battery under the brigade’s name, and not under a state affiliation.

With that lengthy attempt to match these lines to units in the Federal order of battle out of the way, let’s turn to the ammunition reported.  The smoothbore listings offer another set of questions to ponder:


Three of the four lines represented:

  • 1st Battery, M.S.M. – 36 shell, 124 case, and 16 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.
  • 6th Cavalry (stores)- 228 shell for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.
  • 1st Missouri Horse Artillery (again, my guess) – 116 shell and 112 canister for 12-pdr mountain howitzer.

So did the 1st Battery, M.S.M. have field howitzers or mountain howitzers?  Are the cannon tube tallies incorrect?  Or are the ammunition table numbers in the wrong column?

We can skip the Hotchkiss columns, as no quantities were reported. No Dyer or James were reported.  Instead we can focus just on Parrott and some Schenkl projectiles:


  • 1st Battery, M.S.M. – 333 Parrott 10-pdr shells, 80 Parrott 10-pdr canister, and 100 Schenkl 10-pdr shot.

And that is all for the rifled projectiles, with nothing indicated in the remainder of the Schenkl columns or those of Tatham’s.

For the small arms, again we see only one battery reporting:


  • 1st Battery, M.S.M. – Twenty Navy revolvers, thirty-three cavalry sabers, and fifty horse artillery sabers.

A good number of edged weapons for that militia battery. You see, Thurbur’s men were not just hanging out at the Missouri State Fair during their time stationed at Sedalia.

Fortification Friday: Fire over the parapet, build some barbettes

In opening the discussion of interior arrangements for field fortifications, Mahan impressed upon his students that artillery placement was of great importance.  Poorly placed artillery allowed the enemy to become contemptuous of the defenses.  That, of course, would turn the attacker’s conversation from “those are mean defenses” to “we can do this.”  And the defender never wants to concede such, even if it be purely psychological ground.

So were do we place the cannons in our fort?  Simple answer – we put them in batteries:

Batteries. The term battery is usually applied to a collection of several guns; it is also used in speaking of the arrangements made of a parapet to enable the guns to fire over it, or through the openings in it; as a barbette battery, and embrasure battery, &c. Two kinds of batteries are used in the defense of intrenchments, the barbette battery and the embrasure battery.

Readers are probably familiar with the terms barbette and embrasure from discussions of key fortifications made in sesquicentennial posts.  But, as a reminder, this is a barbette as employed on a fixed, permanent fortification:

Fort Moultrie 3 May 2010 510

There are some refinements seen with there at Fort Moultrie which are not necessary with field fortifications.  And of course field fortifications are more apt to use field artillery.  But let us focus here on the basics – the gun is elevated to give a clear line of sight over the parapet.  As Mahan wrote, “The barbette is a construction by means of which a piece can fire over a parapet.”

But recall that with field fortifications, the parapet was designed to afford protection for musket-firing infantry.  Thus the interior stood a bit higher from the tread of the banquette, compared to what we see at Fort Moultrie.  An important consideration when planning a barbette in those field fortifications, as Mahan continued:

[The barbette] consists of a mound of earth, thrown up against the interior slope; the upper surface of which is level, and two feet nine inches below the interior crest for guns of small caliber, and four feet for heavy guns.  If the barbette is raised behind a face, its length should be sufficient to allow sixteen-and-a-half to eighteen feet along the interior crest for each gun; and its depth, or perpendicular distance from the foot of the interior slope to the rear, should be twenty-four feet, for the service of the guns.

Consider the suggested dimensions and what governs those. We have to first consider the line of the bore above the ground, as mounted on a carriage, above the ground.  In his post-war update to the instructions, Junius Wheeler cited this as 43 inches, close to the 43.1 inches for carriages used with 6-pdr field guns or 12-pdr field howitzers. For a 24-pdr field howitzer, the height increased to 44.8-inches. And for a 12-pdr Napoleon (or 32-pdr field howitzer) the height was 45.2.  So we see Wheeler was offering a “least common denominator” planning factor. (For those with a soft spot for little cannon, the mountain howitzer on prairie carriage was 30.5 inches from ground to the line of the bore.)

But… 43 inches is good only if we intend to fire the gun at zero elevation.  We’ll want to depress those muzzles to best cover the ground in front of the fort.  Thus, the mound of earth specified will need to be a little higher.  Mahan and Wheeler came to the number of 33 inches (2 feet, 9 inches).  Of course, siege carriages (NOTE: these were the “larger” field carriages and not the fixed-fortification barbettes, seen in Fort Moultrie) were larger, starting with the bore some 52-53 inches above the ground, then given 48 inches (four feet) above the parapet.  Siege guns only depressed 4º where the field guns could depress as much as 8º.  So the clearance was halved.

Next consider the horizontal space for the gun and crew servicing the piece.  Pack them in too tightly, and efficiency drops (not to mention giving the enemy a dense target to fire upon).  Spread them out too much, and parapet space is wasted – firepower per foot drops below acceptable levels.  Tactical practice, in the field, was to provide for 42 feet (fourteen yards) between pieces.  But within the fort, that factor was reduced to almost a third.

Out on the field, the gun was usually allocated eleven yards (thirty-three feet) of “depth” – broken down with fifteen feet for the gun and space for recoil, then eighteen feet back to the limber (and team).  That would allow ample space for recoil and avoid placing the horses and ammunition chests to closely (but still within easy reach for the “number five” guy bringing up the rounds.  But in the fortification, where other ammunition storage arrangements were in place, that could be reduced to just twenty-four feet (eight yards).  Such allowed room for recoil on the banquette and room for the crew servicing the piece.

So we see some “form follows function” reasoning within the suggested dimensions.

But there were some other arrangements needed. Particularly how the gun was worked up to the “mound of earth” that constituted the barbette (I’ll avoid for the moment calling this a “platform” to avoid confusion later):

The earth of the barbette at the rear and sides receives the natural slope. To ascend the barbette, a construction termed a ramp, is made; this is an inclined plane of earth, which connects to the top of the barbette with the terre-plein. The ramp is ten feet wide at top, and its slope is six base to one perpendicular. The earth at the side receives the natural slope. The ramp should be at some convenient point in the rear, and take up as little room as possible.

A ten foot wide ramp allowed room to maneuver a six-foot wide field carriage, allowing ample foot-space for the men.   The slope of that ramp was a gentle one foot elevation for six feet of length.  Natural slope, recall, was a one to one ratio.

With that lengthy description in mind, Mahan offered Figure 32 as an illustration of a proper barbette placed on a salient:


As we’ve seen with other components of fortifications, simply having the diagram is one thing … building it to specifications is another.  Next week we’ll look at how these barbettes were built, so that the enemy would not gain contempt for our works!

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 52-3.)

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 2nd Missouri Artillery

Dyer’s Compendium relates the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery spent much of the first half of the Civil War on duty as garrison artillery. However, unlike garrison artillery in other sectors which took the form of heavy artillery, the 2nd Missouri remained a “light” regiment, on paper at least.  The regiment received a full, by battery, listing in the summary for first quarter, 1863.  But there was little for the clerks to tally within the form:


Through the first quarter, Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Weydemeyer, who had experience in the Prussian army, was the regimental commander. Weydemeyer would be replaced later in the year (some minor point of friction that falls outside our study today).

Of the five batteries offering returns, three have the annotation “Infty. Stores” (or some variation, if you wish).  On the lines for those batteries, there are no tallies for even tools associated with light artillery.  Thus our review of this “light” regiment’s equipment affords a relatively brief review.  Well… let’s at least give them some due respect and discuss where those garrison artillery batteries were serving during the winter of 1863:

  • Battery A: No return.  Assigned to District of Rolla, but returned to St. Louis in the spring.
  • Battery B:  No return.  My records show Battery B moved to New Madrid, Missouri during the winter.  Captain John J. Sutter was likely the commander at the time.
  • Battery C:  No return. As with Battery A.
  • Battery D: Though with a return, no equipment tallied. Captain Charles P. Meisner commanded this battery, posted to the garrison of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
  • Battery E: No return. One of the batteries posted at St. Louis.
  • Battery F: No return.  As with Battery A.  Of note, this battery would be consolidated into non-existence during the next quarter.  On the table of organization, Captain Clemens Landgraeber’s 1st Missouri Horse Artillery would thence be renamed Battery F, 2nd Missouri.
  • Battery G: Infantry stores at St. Louis.  Duty at both St. Louis and Rolla.
  • Battery H: No return. Duty at St. Louis.
  • Battery I: Infantry stores at St. Joseph, Missouri.  The location is likely a transcription error, as the battery didn’t serve anywhere near that point. For the first quarter of 1863 the battery was among the others posted to St. Louis.
  • Battery K: At St. Louis with two 12-pdr field howitzers and four 3-inch Ordnance rifles.  During the winter, Battery K was being configured for field service with the department’s cavalry.  Lieutenant Thaddeus S. Clarkson commanded later in the spring.  (Clarkson would later command the 3rd Arkansas (Federal) Cavalry).
  • Battery L: No return.  The battery was posted to Rolla during the winter.  In January, the battery accompanied a counter-attack towards the town of Hartville, incurring some casualties, remaining there to the spring.
  • Battery M: Reported at Pilot Knob, Missouri with four 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers. This location was valid for June, 1863.  Prior to that time, Captain Gustave Stange’s battery was in St. Louis, part of the Second Division, Department of Missouri.

Let me remind readers this listing is more a snapshot in time.  Lineage of the 2nd Missouri Artillery batteries becomes a tangle further into the war.  Our focus here is just on the winter of 1863.  But just a few weeks into the second quarter and administrative change occurred.  Following an inquiry into enlistments and such, a portion of the regiment was mustered out.  What remained was reorganized.  And fresh enlistments filled those batteries mustered back in.  More tangles than we need be concerned with for this post.  But we must untangle some of those for the second and third quarters of 1863.

This leaves us with two batteries to consider in regard to equipment, projectiles, and small arms.  Starting with smoothbore:


Just two batteries to consider here:

  • Battery K: 340 shell, 120 case, and 40 canister for 12-pdr howitzer.
  • Battery M: 502 shot, 165 case, and 52 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 92 shell, 120 case, and 24 canister for 12-pdr howitzer (I believe the column entry is a transcription error as no 12-pdr field guns were on hand).

And only one battery reported rifles on hand, so we have short work considering projectiles for those guns:


Just Hotchkiss projectiles:

  • Battery K: 204(?) canister, 304 percussion shell, 304 fuse shell, and 196 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

Looking to the next couple of pages, we find no quantities of Dyer’s, James’, Parrott’s, or Schenkl’s projectiles. So we turn to the small arms:


Of the two reporting:

  • Battery K: Twenty Army revolvers and twenty-one horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery M: Thirty Army revolvers and sixty-eight cavalry sabers.

So “short work” for the 2nd Missouri artillery. Keep in mind this was a formation in a state of transition as winter turned to spring.  And we’ll revisit that organization in future installments.

But we are not done with Missouri.  Four more entry lines appear below the 2nd Regiment.  Those four are worthy of their own post, as each will take some lengthy discussions!

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – 1st Missouri Artillery

Earlier in January, I offered a brief, general service history of the batteries of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery in the preface to the fourth quarter, 1862 summary.  As noted at that time, there is much to “untangle” when matching the Missouri batteries to alternate names and designations that appear in the records.  Keep that in mind as we review the Missouri entries over the next couple of posts in this set.

For the first regiment, we have eight returns from the twelve batteries.  Two of those were filed in 1864:


So a fair sampling to consider:

  • Battery A: No return.  Captain George W. Schofield’s battery began the quarter as part of the District of Eastern Arkansas.  Their formation bore the very unlucky designation of the Thirteenth Division, Thirteenth Corps.  As the corps organized for the Vicksburg Campaign, the battery shifted to the Twelfth Division of that corps. The battery accompanied it’s parent formation during the Yazoo Pass operations that winter.  They returned to Milliken’s Bend in April.
  • Battery B: No return.  The battery was assigned to the Second Division, Department of Missouri during the quarter.  Captain Martin Welfley remained in command. However, Welfley also served as artillery chief for the department, starting in mid-March.  It is unclear if a subordinate held battery command at that time.
  • Battery C: Reporting from Lake Providence, Louisiana with two 6-pdr field guns and two 12-pdr field howitzers.  Formerly known as Mann’s Independent Battery, the battery was under Lieutenant Edward Brotzmann at the start of the year and assigned to Sixth Division, Sixteenth Corps.  Captain Charles Mann returned to command the battery during the winter.  When Sixth Division transferred to Seventeenth Corps, Mann’s battery went along.
  • Battery D:  At Corinth, Mississippi, with four 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 3-inch rifles.  The battery, under Captain Henry Richardson, was part of a battalion of Missouri artillery serving at Corinth under Major George H. Stone, in Sixteenth Corps.  Of note, the battery’s reported armament differed greatly from that indicated the previous quarter (five 20-pdr Parrotts).
  • Battery E: Indicated at St. Louis with four 10-pdr Parrotts and three “English Guns, Cal. 3.5.”  The latter were products of Fawcett & Preston in Liverpool.  During the winter, Captain Nelson Cole resumed command of this battery assigned to the Department of the Frontier.  The battery moved to Springfield, Missouri in mid-February.  Later moved to Rolla.  Not until later in the spring did the battery reach St. Louis, as part of the reinforcements sent to Vicksburg.  A reorganization to be discussed in the next quarter.
  • Battery F: At Rolla, Missouri with two 3.80-inch James Rifles and four 3.5-inch English Guns.  Battery F’s story is paired with Battery E’s for the most part.  During the winter, Captain Joseph Foust (from Battery E) assumed command.  And like Battery E, Foust’s remained with the Department of the Frontier through the winter, to be pulled into the Vicksburg Campaign later in the spring.
  • Battery G: No return.  Captain Henry Hescock’s battery wintered at Murfreesboro, being placed in the Third Division, Twentieth Corps.
  • Battery H: Also at Corinth in Stone’s Battalion and reporting two 6-pdr field guns, one 24-pdr field howitzer, and two 10-pdr Parrotts. Captain Frederick Welker remained in command.
  • Battery I:  Also part of Stone’s Battalion at Corinth, with two 6-pdr field guns, two 12-pdr field howitzers, and two 10-pdr Parrotts.  By the end of the spring, Captain Benjamin Tannrath commanded the battery.
  • Battery K: At Germantown, Tennessee with four 10-pdr Parrotts. Transferring out of Stone’s Battalion, Captain Stillman O. Fish’s battery was placed in the District of Jackson.  Later in the spring, the battery began movement to Helena, Arkansas.
  • Battery L: No report. Captain Frank Backof’s Battery was part of the Department of the Frontier and station at Springfield.
  • Battery M: On July 10, 1863, this battery could proudly claim to be at Vicksburg, Mississippi.  But at the end of March of that year, they’d only begun the journey to that place.  Captain Junius W. MacMurray’s battery was around Lake Providence at the close of the quarter, assigned to Seventh Division, Seventeenth Corps.  The battery reported four 10-pdr Parrotts.

With administrative details and the number of guns reported in mind, let us turn to the smoothbore ammunition on hand:


Yes, extended columns because we have a 24-pdr field howitzer to feed.  And one should notice something appears off with the line for Battery K.  There were no smoothbores in the battery.  And at the same time, Battery H had smoothbores to feed, yet only quantities listed for the 24-pdr howitzer.  Is this a transcription error?  Or admission that the wrong ammunition was carried by Battery K?  I think the former.  But to be accurate in my transcription here, I’ll reflect the lines as recorded on the form:

  • Battery C: 160 shot, 160 case, and 80 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 108 shells, 108 case, and 64 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery D: 280 shot, 204 case, and 145 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 337 case, and 38 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery H: 109 shell, 62 case, and 66 canister for their 24-pdr field howitzer.
  • Battery L: 15 shot, 260 case, and 155 canister for 6-pdr field guns; 120 shell, 109 case, and 145 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • Battery K:  90 case and 28 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, we start with Hotchkiss:


Two batteries reporting, and with different calibers:

  • Battery D: 42 canister, 46 percussion shell, 80 fuse shell, and 240 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery F: 52 shot for 3.80-inch “James”; 400 percussion shell for 3.67-inch “Wiard”; and 200 percussion shell for 3.80-inch “James.”

I break out Battery F in detail as the battery reported rifles in two distinct calibers.  We have to question here if they were using 3.67-inch projectiles in their James Rifles, or if some quantities might reflect the clerk’s attempt to reconcile 3.5-inch ammunition quantities in the form.

We find more from Battery F on the next page:


For James’ patent projectiles:

  • Battery K: 172 shot and 12 shell in 3.80-inch.

Moving to the Parrott columns, we see:

  • Battery E: 630 shell and 131 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery H: 13 shell, 60 case, and 117 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 44 shell, 74 case, and 46 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 160 shell, 340 case, and 120 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 152 shell, 240 case, and 152 canister for 10-pdr Parrott.

Lastly the Schenkl columns:

  • Battery E: 89 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery I: 79 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery K: 90 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.
  • Battery M: 80 shot for 10-pdr Parrott.

On the last page for rifled projectiles, we find Battery K again:


Tatham’s canister:

  • Battery K: 200 cansiter for 3.67-inch and 100 canister for 3.80-inch.

And again, we must wonder if some of these were 3.5-inch caliber, but lacking a column were simply “dropped” into the form by the clerks.

And for last the small arms:


At least no “special” columns, just those as printed:

  • Battery C: Three Army revolvers and thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery D: Thirty cavalry sabers.
  • Battery E: Eighty-one Army revolvers and fourty-seven cavalry sabers.
  • Battery F: Six Army revolvers, six Navy revolvers, and fifteen cavalry sabers.
  • Battery  H: Six Army revolvers and forty-three horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery I: Fourteen Army revolvers, 136 cavalry sabers, and one horse artillery saber.
  • Battery K: Three Navy revolvers and twenty-five cavalry sabers.
  • Battery M: Seven Army revolvers and seven cavalry sabers.

The small arms reports are always interesting to me, as I look for correlations between quantities and the assignments.  In this case, maybe Backof’s Battery needed a lot of edged weapons given their duty in southeast Missouri.

We’ll look at Missouri’s Second Light Artillery Regiment in the next installment.


Why were there no tanks in the Civil War? Because nobody needed them, that’s why

There’s an interesting counter-factual blog post making rounds since the middle of the month.  The question is posed – why were there no tanks in the Civil War?

The author of the piece, Jason Torchinsky, approaches this a respectful and practical stance.  He points out that the underlying technology needed to produce a tank (more properly armored fighting vehicle… but tank is the handy expression) existed – armor, rotating turret, propulsion systems. And just looking at those photos of Petersburg’s trenches, some steam-powered proto-tank would seem like the thing for Ulysses Grant to take the war to Bobby Lee.  Or maybe for Uncle Billy to finally break the defenses of Atlanta.



So the question is why didn’t anyone offer up a tank for use?

Well, long story short, because neither side needed a tank.

To expand on that a bit, consider the situation that created the need for tanks in World War I.  It was not just the trenches that confounded military commanders. As I’ve pointed out in the discussion of field fortifications, those trenches, obstacles, and other features existed before the Civil War.  And military science taught techniques to deal with those fortifications.  So what was different on those French battlefields of 1915?

If we look at the tactical level, technology had given the defender multi-fold increases in firepower.  The machine gun gets a lot of attention in this regard.  But it was long range, rapid fire artillery that brought the most change to the battlefield.  In order to counter the higher level of firepower that inhibited maneuver, generals sought a way to move their firepower up with the advancing infantry.  So we have one “need” that the tank addressed.

Now I mention artillery.  With even the lightest field pieces out ranging the largest Civil War pieces by a factor of three or four, the gunners were well outside of rifle range. Such brought depth to the battlefield well beyond what the Civil War generals had to deal with.  Add to that the buzzing biplanes ranging well behind the front lines.  All of which, again, inhibited maneuver, but here the consideration is at the operational level.  And yet another “need” the tank could address. Let us stop the upward spiral there, but understand there were some strategic considerations also weighing into this “maneuver” problem.

What occurred between 1914 and 1916 was a confluence of technological capability and military need.  That confluence was needed for the tank to be “invented.”

Was that same, or a similar, confluence working up in 1863-5?

It was not.  The trenches at Petersburg and Atlanta (as well as those at Vicksburg the year before) were due in large part because of successful maneuver.  In those cases the Federals had maneuvered their opponents into a point which could not be relinquished without grave effects. One cannot maneuver the enemy out of a position he is unwilling or unable to retreat from.  And thus the campaigns took a static form.  Simplistic overview, but we need not get too far into the mud.

Maneuver and firepower remained at the same relative levels throughout those campaigns (more or less where things had been at the start of the war… and twenty years before the start of the war).  Not to say Civil War generals could maneuver at will, but rather to say the arithmetic for successful movement had not changed.  The commander of 1864 could achieve a maneuver success by way of applying the tried and true practices… though we all know how fleeting success can be on the battlefield.  Thus there was no confluence of technology and need.  And thus no tank.

But… if we really want to start down the path of debating the practicality of armored fighting vehicles in the Civil War, and stay within the scope of military science then we have to bring up the “L-word.”  Could the Civil War armies have sustained a force of tanks, logistically?  Um…. probably not.  At the height of the war, the US Navy was always “just” getting by with the supply of coal for the blockade (arguably the greater threat to the blockade, short of foreign intervention).  And coal would be the most likely fuel for some hypothetical Civil War tank.  Might Mr. Lincoln been confronted with a conundrum – “Sir, you can have your fancy armored wagons, or you can have your blockaders, but not both.”

Fortification Friday: Interior Arrangements, starting with armaments

The next aspect of field fortifications to consider are the interior arrangements.  Thus far most of our focus has been towards the exterior, with the exception of the traverses, and what could be done to block or stop the attacker.  With the interior arrangements, the engineer would consider what could make the defenders’ job easier and, shall we say, more comfortable.  Mahan prefaced his lesson on interior arrangements by calling attention to such factors:

Under the [heading] of interior arrangements is comprised all the means resorted to within the work to procure an efficient defense; to preserve the troops and the material from the destructive effects of the enemy’s fire; and to prevent a surprise.

You are probably thinking, “protect the troops?  Isn’t that what the parapet does?  Doesn’t the ditch prevent surprise?”  Well… yes… you might look at it from that standpoint.  But what Mahan was calling attention to here were the structures and features which were internal to the works and designed to improve the nature of the defense.  As such “within the work” is the important phrase to consider.  But, keep your questions in mind as we work through this topic, as we will revisit shortly.

Mahan continued to offer a list of classes of these interior arrangements:

The class of constructions required for the above purposes, are batteries; powder magazines; traverses; shelters; enclosures for gorges and outlets; interior safety-redoubt, or keep; and bridges of communication.

From that we have a subdivision:

All arrangements made for the defense, with musketry and artillery, belong to what is termed the armament.

So we have a name for structures to support things that shoot.  Armaments.  Just for the context of these field fortification discussions, OK?

The armament with musketry is complete when the banquette and the interior and superior slopes are properly arranged, to enable the soldier to deliver his fire with effect; and to mount on the parapet to meet the enemy with the bayonet.  For this last purpose stout pickets may be driven into the interior slope, about midway from the bottom and three feet apart. The armament with artillery is, in a like manner, complete, when suitable means are taken to allow the guns to fire over the parapet, or through openings made in it; and when all the required accessories are provided for the service of the guns.

So… yes the parapet’s design can be considered part of the interior arrangements.

Mahan continues with this profound statement:

The armament with artillery is a subject of great importance….

You got me at “great importance.”

Oh, wait, I cut the professor off.  He has more on this ….

The armament with artillery is a subject of great importance, because it is not equally adapted to all classes of works.  Experience has demonstrated that the most efficient way of employing artillery, is in protecting the collateral salients by a well directed flank and cross fire, which shall not leave untouched a single foot of ground within its range, over which the enemy must approach.  It has moreover shown, that a work with a weak profile affords but little security to artillery within it; for artillery cannot defend itself, and such a work can be too easily carried by assault to offer any hope of keeping the enemy at a distance long enough to allow the artillery to produce its full effect.

The logic here is “form should follow function.”  If the intent is to have artillery fire on the enemy in order to break up the attack, then a flank fire is recommended.  And that artillery should blanket the approaches with fire… “shall not leave untouched a single foot….”  Artillery sits at the top of the list when making decisions about weapon placement.  It is the most effective, man per man, weapon for influencing the battlefield Not necessarily saying “killing” or producing causalities, but influencing the other side’s actions.  Yet, artillery’s influence is best gained over longer ranges.  Thus the need to form works that not only provide the artillery a measure of protection but also keep the enemy at greater than small arms length (range).

The best position for artillery is on the flanks and salients of a work; because from these points the salients are best protected, and the approaches best swept; and the guns should be collected at these points in batteries of several pieces; for experience has likewise shown, that it is only by opening a heavy, well-sustained fire on the enemy’s columns, that an efficient check can be [given] to them.  If only a few files are taken off, or the shot passes over the men, it rather inspires the enemy with confidence in his safety, and with contempt for the defenses.

Sun Tzu should have said it!  Don’t let the enemy become contemptuous of your defenses!

Consider the “best practice” offered by Mahan.  By placing artillery on the salients, the guns were out of the direct line of the attacker’s fires while being placed behind the various, and likely complex, defensive works on the “horns” of the bastion.  And artillery shouldn’t be parceled out as singles, but rather massed and inter-operated to multiply the effect.

All this is great theoretical talk.  Everyone would agree massing artillery is best.  But now we have a practical problem on the parapet.  With infantry, the parapet works fine to protect most of the body, provide cover to crouch behind when reloading, and, if the fight is close, an orientation for the bayonets.  But artillerymen cannot “crouch” an artillery piece.  And when servicing the weapon, they are exposed. Furthermore, there are all sorts of problems bringing 12 pound or 24 pound or larger projectiles up to the gun.  So to make the big guns work best, one must make arrangements.. in the interior…. And those arrangements Mahan identified under the classification of “batteries.” We’ll look at those next.

(Citations from Dennis Hart Mahan, A Treatise on Field Fortifications, New York: John Wiley, 1852, pages 51-2.)

Summary Statement, 1st Quarter, 1863 – Minnesota and Maryland Batteries

Continuing through the summaries in the order of presentation, the next sections are for batteries from Minnesota and Maryland.  What of Maine? And shouldn’t Massachusetts and Michigan be ahead of Minnesota? Clearly the clerks of the Ordnance Department placed line count and page layout above ease of data retrieval.  We’ll see those other states represented… after Missouri!

For now we have the business of five batteries from “The star of the North” and the “Old Line State.”


Minnesota provided one heavy artillery regiment (very late in the war) and three light batteries to the cause.  The last of those light batteries was fully formed until late spring 1863.  So we see two listed here for the winter quarter of that year:

  • 1st Battery: Received on April 14, 1863, their report gave a location of Lake Providence, Louisiana, with two 12-pdr field howitzers and two 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifles.  When Grant’s ponderous Thirteenth Corps was reorganized, the battery moved with its parent, the Sixth Division, into Seventeenth Corps.  During the winter the division moved from Memphis to Lake Providence, with other formations focused on Vicksburg.  Freshly promoted Captain William Z. Clayton commanded.
  • 2nd Battery:  On paper, we see this battery’s report arrived in Washington on April 15, claiming an advanced position at Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Something is certainly amiss with the entry.  Two 12-pdr Napoleons and four 10-pdr Parrotts is correct.  But the battery was actually at Murfreesboro with the rest of the Army of the Cumberland.  With the reorganization, the battery moved to First Division, Twentieth Corps.  Captain William A. Hotchkiss relinquished command of the battery to serve as the artillery chief.  Lieutenant Albert Woodbury assumed command.
  • 3rd Battery:  As mentioned above, this battery was still organizing at the reporting time and thus not on the summary.  Men from the 10th Minnesota Infantry transferred to form the battery.  Captain John Jones commanded.

Maryland had three batteries serving the Federal cause at this time in the war:

  • Battery A: The report received on June 23, 1863 indicated the battery wintered around White Oak Church, Virginia and possessed six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain James H. Rigby remained in command.  The battery was part of Sixth Corps at the time.
  • Battery B:  No date on the return, but the battery was also posted at White Oak Church. The battery reported four 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  Captain Alonzo Snow commanded.  At the start of the quarter the battery was also part of the Sixth Corps.  By mid-spring the battery was listed as “unassigned” within the Army of the Potomac, then later assigned to the Provost Guard Brigade.
  • Baltimore Battery: The return of April 19 had the battery at Harpers Ferry, with one 6-pdr field gun and six 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  The battery, under Captain F. W. Alexander, was in Kenley’s Division of the Eighth Corps (Middle Department).  Later the battery would transfer to Milroy’s Division at Winchester.

Among those five (reporting) batteries, we have three with smoothbore cannons:


And those had ammunition on hand to count:

  • 1st Minnesota: 92 shell, 104 case, and 130 canister for 12-pdr field howitzers.
  • 2nd Minnesota: 96 shot, 32 shell, 96 case, and 32 canister for 12-pdr Napoleons.
  • Baltimore Battery:  100 case and 100 canister for 6-pdr field guns.

Moving to the rifled projectiles, first those of Hotchkiss:


Four with quantities to report:

  • 1st Minnesota: 74 shot, 96 fuse shell, and 12 bullet shell for 3.67-inch rifle (labeled “Wiard” in the column header, but we know that caliber was also used by the rifled 6-pdr guns).
  • Battery A, Maryland: 40 canister and 181 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Battery B, Maryland: 120 fuse shell and 452 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.
  • Baltimore Battery:  150 canister, 616 percussion shell, and 712 bullet shell for 3-inch rifles.

We cannot “cut down” the next page due to the various projectiles reported.


Let us consider these by type.  One battery had Dyer’s on hand:

  • Battery A, Maryland: 32 shell, 527 shrapnel, and 80 canister for 3-inch rifle.

Now to the Parrott columns:

  • 2nd Minnesota: 416 shell and 149 canister for 10-pdr (2.9-inch) Parrott.

Lastly, there are some Schenkl columns on this page:

  • 2nd Minnesota: 15 shot for 10-pdr Parrott – reminder, these are Schenkl projectiles but made to work in Parrott rifles.

We see more Schenkl projectiles on the next page:


These are in the Maryland batteries:

  • Battery A, Maryland: 332 shell in 3-inch rifle caliber.
  • Battery B, Maryland: 179 shell in 3-inch rifle caliber.

Then all the way to the right, we find Tatham’s canister in use:

  • 1st Minnesota: 126 canister for 3.67-inch (6-pdr) rifle caliber.

I do like that we see the 3.67-inch rifle caliber projectiles specifically called out on the forms.  This underscores the difference – practical and administrative – between the James Rifles and the rifled 6-pdrs.

Moving to the small arms:


By battery:

  • 1st Minnesota: Eleven Navy revolvers and thirteen cavalry sabers.
  • 2nd Minnesota: One Navy revolver and eight cavalry sabers.
  • Battery A, Maryland: Eight Army revolvers and twenty horse artillery sabers.
  • Battery B, Maryland: Fourteen Army revolvers and 102 cavalry sabers.
  • Baltimore Battery: Six Springfield .58-caliber muskets, twenty Army revolvers, and thirty horse artillery sabers.

We see, with one small exception, a desired small arms issue for artillery batteries.

Perhaps this is the best rounded, complete set of returns submitted thus far.  Just one question, about the location of the 2nd Minnesota battery.  And we see every cannon on the report had some projectile to fire!